Villages submerged by flooding in 2015 are devastated again despite £30m investment in defences

Cars are submerged as floodwater covers the roads and car parks in Mytholmroyd, West Yorkshire, after the River Calder burst its banks on Sunday. (Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images)

Yorkshire villages that were devastated by floods four years ago were submerged again this weekend – despite a £30m investment in defences.

Parts of the West Yorkshire communities of Mytholmroyd and Hebden Bridge were rendered inaccessible as the high winds and torrential rain of Storm Ciara swept across Britain on Sunday.

River levels peaked just below the 2015 record levels, which caused millions of pounds of damage to houses and businesses along the Calder Valley.

Residents in Mytholmroyd were warned not to leave their homes after severe flooding hit on Sunday. (Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images)

More than £30m has been spent on flood defences in Mytholmroyd since the 2015 deluge, with part of the scheme completed in 2019 and the remainder due to be finished this summer.

Early reports from the village were that some of the new defences held but many homes were still flooded.

As Storm Ciara peaked on Sunday afternoon, flood wardens warned residents not to leave their homes. A message on the village’s official Facebook page said: “Please stay at home unless absolutely necessary. There are no passable roads through The Valley.

Newly constructed flood defences are seen here (left) beside the River Calder in Mytholmroyd, but proved insufficient to prevent the river bursting its banks and flooding the village. (Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images)

“There are no shops open for you to buy things from. And if you think you have a vehicle that is capable of driving through flood water still don’t do it.”

On Monday the wardens said: “It’s the morning after and possibly the first time people will get a chance to really take stock of the devastation.”

Flooding affected large sections of the River Calder and River Aire in West Yorkshire.

Further downstream, the main bridge at Elland has been closed for structural assessments after a large shipping container hit it and lodged underneath.

Martin Slater from the Environment Agency told BBC Radio Leeds that problems could continue. He said: “As the rain that fell yesterday moves down the River Aire catchment and the River Calder it will be going through Leeds overnight and today.

A clean-up mission is underway in Mytholmroyd after flooding deluged the village. (Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images)

“So we do ask people to remain vigilant and stay away from rivers.”

Slater said: “The catchments are really saturated and there’s not places for any future rain to go, so we do ask people to be really careful.


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Pictured: Storm Ciara causes severe flooding and sends debris flying

“Some of our measuring devices recorded around about 100mm rain in a 12- to 18-hour period, so that’s a lot of rain falling in a very short period of time.

“Enormous quantities have fallen in a short period of time so that turns those small becks into raging torrents in places.”

Storm Ciara brought winds of 97mph, cancelling flights, rail services and sporting events including a Premier League game.

A "major incident" was declared by Lancashire Fire, with the Energy Networks Association reporting that 539,000 households had been hit by power cuts.

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